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Be Bear Aware!
Release Date: August 29, 2014

Black Bears and Mendham Township
Due to an increase in bear sightings within the township in the past week, the Mendham Township Police Department would like our residents to please be aware of the following information regarding the bear population in Mendham Township.     
Mendham Township is home to approx. 8-12 black bears including 2 new cubs over in the Brookside area which has been a yearly occurrence with different mothers.  Why the exact number is not known.  They reside in all corners of the township, and if you live here long enough, there is a good chance you will encounter one.  No need to be alarmed however, they have about as much interest in seeing you as you do in seeing them.      
Bears are foragers and can travel 10 square miles easily in a day.  This is why the majority of bear sightings are brief.  Most bears will continue about their business and move along quickly. This is normal, healthy bear behavior. 
There are a number of things residents can do to reduce the likelihood of having a bear encounter at their residence.    

  1. Store all garbage in a certified bear resistant garbage container
  2. Keep garbage containers inside your garage, secured shed or garbage container
  3. Clean your garbage containers on a regular basis with disinfectant and a hose
  4. Place garbage out for pickup as close to your scheduled pick up time as possible
  5. Keep meats or sweet foods out of compost piles
  7. Bird feeders are a huge attraction for bears.  If you want to maintain one, please have it on a line suspended at least 10 feet above the ground.    
  8. Keep BBQ grills and the area clean and free of food debris and residue
  9. If you have a deck that is lower to the ground (only 2-4 feet of clearance), place a trellis work or fencing around the access to underneath your deck, especially in the fall when bears are looking for a home for the winter.  We have had a number of bears den under decks without the residents knowing until later in the winter. 
Bears will typically den starting in late November and rise in early spring.  Bears do not “hibernate” but rather enter a dormant state and may awake on warmer winter days and wander.  Bear dens can be in small caves, hollowed out trees or root systems or under rock ledges.  If you come across a bear den, vacate the area as quickly and quietly as possible.  

Bears are not aggressive towards humans by nature and have no wish to interact with us.   If you encounter a bear remain calm and do not run.  Make sure the bear has an escape route.  Avoid direct eye contact, back up slowly and speak with a low, assertive voice.  Please refer to the following link for some good information on bear encounters:

When Should I Contact the Mendham Township Police about a Bear Sighting? 

If a bear is simply crossing a road or wandering through your yard, there is no need to contact the police.  Under the following circumstances please do not hesitate to call;

If you live in close proximity to a school, sports field or playground that is being used or is in session or if the bear is passing through a neighborhood.  
  1. If you have sustained some type of damage such as a damaged bird feeder or garbage can.   
  2. If the bear is lingering around the yard and is coming back frequently
  3. If the bear engages in aggressive behavior or has done harm to a domestic pet or farm animal. 
None of the bears in the township thus far have been aggressive in nature nor have they engaged in aggressive behavior towards any domesticated animals.  Please be bear aware when hiking Mendham Township Open Space trails.  Click on the link above to learn more about safety and bear encounters.    
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact either the Mendham Township Police Department at 973 543-2581 or the New Jersey Department of Fish and Game

Thank you for your time. 

Lt. Ross Johnson
Mendham Township PD
NJ Fish & Game Certified Bear Officer

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